The Presidential Award is a prestigious honor that recognizes the dedication, hard work, and passion teachers put into their work. For me, it is a humbling recognition to reflect on all the support and opportunities I have been provided to develop my skills in becoming a stronger mathematics teacher. Even more so, it recognizes my students. My students amaze me every day with their curiosity, creativity, passion, and perseverance. Without them, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

Melissa Szatko Omaha, NE | K-6, Mathematics, 2018

The official biography below was current at the time of the award.

Melissa Szatko has been an educator for 12 years. She has taught all subjects to first grade at Indian Hill Elementary School the past seven years, five of which included co-teaching. Her career started with teaching preschool at Brownell-Talbot School where she taught for five years. Melissa completed the Primarily Math program offered by Omaha Public Schools and the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, which certified her as a kindergarten through third grade mathematics specialist. It was during this program that she began transforming her mathematics instruction. She went from using traditional procedural techniques to providing her students the time to explore and develop mathematical strategies. Melissa uses high-cognitive, meaningful tasks along with discourse to help students develop a deeper understanding of mathematical concepts. Melissa's leadership experiences have included being a first grade team leader and a new teacher mentor. She has also assisted in professional development trainings and teaching parent mathematics classes. Melissa earned a B.S., cum laude, in elementary education from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. She received a M.A. in teaching, learning, and teacher education, along with a mathematics specialist certificate from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. She is a certified elementary teacher.